Camping

Archive

I need a new water filter for summer trips into the Ouachita Mountains, and I'm torn between the MSR MiniWorks EX and the Katadyn Guide Pro. I know you're a fan of the MiniWorks, but I can't screw it onto my existing stock of Platypus water bottles. Is the MiniWorks superior to the Guide Pro? Greg Dallas, Texas

I 15 years old and do a lot of backpacking for my age. I’m using my dad’s old stove that is older than me. It works fine, but they no longer make the fuel canisters to fit it. What’s a good lightweight stove that’s not too expensive? Collin Suwanee, Georgia

I'm going on an extended solo backpacking trip through the desert of Mexico, possibly into Central America, and ending in Cuba or Jamaica. So I need lightweight everything. I’m trying to decide between the MSR XGK EX and the Jetboil stoves. Will I be able to find canisters and other replacement parts in Central America? Kory Phoenix, Arizona

I've introduced my three teenage boys to backpacking over the last few years and managed to get my backpack from 40-plus pounds to about 20 for four- to five-day summer ventures. What's a good lightweight backpack to haul 20 to 30 pounds? Steve Fishers, Indiana

I love to go on light hikes (carrying only a hydration bladder) with my dog. But being a java junkie, I would like to know the best way to have hot coffee at my destination without adding too much weight. I have thought of using a dog pack, but my super-active pointer just won’t have it. Christopher Brooklyn, New York

I looking for a lightweight tent for summer camping and have considered the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight. But it seems like I can get a larger tent without sacrificing weight. Any suggestions? Chris Helena, Montana

Planning to book that trip to Laos’s Houaphan province you saw in our Best Trips of 2007 feature? Don’t let a swig of tainted water ruin the journey. Steripen, which pioneered the use of ultraviolet light in portable water purifiers, has created the ultimate drinking companion for travelers. The…

I’ve had a Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad for a few years now, and I believe it has lost its cushioning. I stored it rolled up in its carry bag. Was that bad? Any recommendations on a new one? Rafael Laredo, Texas

I'm in the market for a tent and down to the Black Diond Mesa and the Marmot Swallow. I like the four-season convertibility of the Swallow, and the Mesa looks sublime. I trust BDs products, but I'm concerned about how warm the Mesa will be. My other concern is condensation. What’s your advice? Beth Stone Ridge, NY

I need a sleeping bag that will perform in the winter and early spring for ski touring/snow camping. I trying to decide between Feathered Friends with EPIC or Western Mountaineering with MicroLite XP. Also, I don't want to sleep in layers, so I’ll likely get a zero-degree bag (especially since there doesn’t seem to be much of a weight difference between it and a 15-degree bag). What are your thoughts? Lindsay California

Are there any reliable and easy-to-use wood-burning stoves on the market? Most of them on the Internet look like Do-It-Yourself types. And how well do these things work compared to liquid-fuel stoves? Jeremy Moscow, Idaho

How long should a quality down sleeping bag last? I have a Feathered Friends Swallow that’s about 15 years old. I've treated it well and kept it clean, but it seems to be losing loft. I due for a new bag? Bob San Francisco, California

Can you recommend a durable tent with room for me to stand up inside (I’m five feet, six inches tall)? I work at Renaissance Festivals around the country and live in a tent ten months out of the year. I have a car, so weight is not an issue. Craig Edinburg, Virginia

I’m in the market for a new two-person four-season tent that will keep me dry in snowy conditions but won’t weight me down too much while snowshoeing. Any recommendations? Missy Portland, Maine

I need a new two-person tent (for my tall self and my gear). I spend a lot of time backpacking in wet, windy, and cold weather, so I don't mind spending $300+ if the tent is worth it. I had a Sierra Designs Half Moon Tent, but all my gear was destroyed in a house fire. Any ideas? Kerry Hannibal, New York

I'm looking for a good four-season tent to take on England’s Pennine Way in March. I’ve looked at the Eureka! Alpenlite 2XT, thinking that a tent from a few seasons ago might be cheaper. Do you have other suggestions for $300 or less and around 7.5 pounds or less? Dave Asheville, North Carolina

I recently started camping again with my son, and I need a new down sleeping bag. Mummy bags feel too tight, so I’m leaning toward a rectangular shape, even thought they’re heavier. Any recommendations? Shawn Flanders, New Jersey

I work in the mountains and spend more time in a sleeping bag than in a bed. It’s time for a new bag, and I’d like a down one with a water-repellant and rip-resistant shell (maybe ripstop or Pertex). What brands do you suggest I look at? Mike Orem, Utah

I'm going on a sea kayaking trip in Palau and looking for recommendations on the best sleeping gear. Can you recommend a tropical weight sleeping bag or other solution that provides some cover without too much warmth? John Washington, D.C.

There are so many backpacking tents out there; can they all be that different? What is a solid two-person tent for $250 or less that best combines light weight with durability? Bill Columbia, Missouri

I like the idea of single-wall tents such as the Black Diond Skylight for more room and less weight, but I worry about weatherproofing and condensation. What does one do in this world of tents? Benjin Moose, Wyoming

What’s your take on the MSR Miox pump-free purifier? It has been the subject of some debate, and I’d like your insight. Chris Helena, Montana

Would trekking poles be a help or a hindrance on an extensive hike, such as the entire AT? Also, is there a real benefit to shock-absorbing poles? John Redlands, California

Are there any solo, self-supported, rainproof tents available? It sure would be nice to wake up with a dry sleeping bag. Ron Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Is it okay to store a synthetic sleeping bag in its compression stuffsack? I’m a member of a local mountain search-and-rescue group, and my pack needs to be ready to go at any time. The last thing I want to do is stuff my sleeping bag while the helicopter is waiting. Guy North Vancouver, British Columbia

I’m looking for a stove that simmers well and is quiet. I’ve considered three: MSR’s DragonFly, Brunton’s Optimus NOVA, and Primus’ OmniFuel. Any other ideas? Richard Venice, California

My Marmot Peapod tent, useful in my glory days, just doesn't have the real estate needed for a two-adult, one-child family. Neither does the single Therm-a-Rest. Can you recommend a quality family tent that is available in Canada? Ditto for a good inflatable double mattress. Bernard Quebec City, Quebec

I’m guilty of not properly storing my Lafuma tent over the last few years, and the polyurethane coating has completely peeled off. I’d like to keep this tent instead of buying another. Can I reapply the waterproof layer? Francis Singapore

I have Coleman's excellent double-burner Xpedition stove, and I’m addicted. But I’m packing for a motorcycle trip to Yosemite National Park and questioning the wisdom of my investment. The gas is virtually impossible to get in Canada, and difficult to get in the U.S. REI seems to have it, but every time I travel I'm paranoid. Is there any official word on how long it's going to be manufactured? Skot Vancouver, British Columbia

As an East Coast flatlander, I'm at a loss as to whether I can get by with a lightweight three-season tent (an MSR Zoid 1.5) for my upcoming backpacking trip to Wyoming's Wind River Range. Can you help? John Wilmington, Delaware

How can I stop wetting the bed? Seriously, I fall asleep and start sweating like a nun at a strip club. Going on the theory that no clothes equals warmer, I've tried wearing a thin layer. Going on the theory that layers equal warmth, I've tried sleeping sans skivvies. I don't want to end up soaking the down of my new sleeping bag. Jay Poughkeepsie, New York

I want to make a tent by myself. Any advice on where to buy ten feet of gray or blue polyester taffeta fabric that will suit my needs?

I’m planning a climbing trip on Mount Denali and shopping for a three-person tent. Will Sierra Designs’ Alpha stand up against the high wind? Also, what are your thoughts about tent poles reinforced with short "legs,” like on Sierra Designs’ Stretch Dome? Dmitri Bloomington, Indiana

I’m looking for a new family tent and confused about fabric ratings. One store’s website says something about 1,000mm coatings, but I don't see any references to that on other sites. I did see one that said "70 denier." What's that and how do I compare? Robin Highland, Indiana

I'm setting off on a three-week sea kayaking expedition up the central coast of British Columbia, and I need a synthetic zero-degree (C) to five-degree (C) sleeping bag. But I'm not sure whether to get a mummy bag or a barrel bag. Any recommendations? Guy North Vancouver, British Columbia

What are your suggestions for the best five- to six-person family tent? My husband’s six-foot-three, so a tent with some height all the way around is preferable. Also, are budget tents at so-called “big-box stores” ever worth considering? Angie Auburn, Alabama

I’m considering buying a bivy to add warmth to and protect my Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 sleeping bag, which I chose for its light weight. I cp mostly in lean-tos or other minimalist shelters, and when the temp gets down to 35 degrees, I get chilled. I’ve tried liners for warmth and to protect the inside of the bag, but they’re too confining. Any thoughts on the Mountain Hardwear Conduit Bivy? Or do you have other recommendations? Cheryl Melrose, Massachusetts

I need a two-person tent that provides plenty of ventilation for fall and spring Southeast backpacking trips, but that’s also good for below-tree line trips to the Northeast in winter. I like the Black Diond Skylight, but concerned about how it will hold up to snow. How does the Skylight stack up to other tents in the se weight and roominess categories? Rich Decatur, Georgia

My wife and I are looking for a three-season tent to take on backpacking trips in New England. One condition: The tent must be roomy and rugged enough for us to bring along our chocolate lab puppy that we just can't leave at home. What kind of tent would you recommend? Jim Watervliet, New York

I used a zero-degree sleeping bag in 32-degree weather and froze all night. I was wearing sweatpants, a thermal shirt, and a sweatshirt with a hood. I also wore socks. What did I do wrong? Joe Danbury, Connecticut

This July, I’ll be doing a five-day, 50-mile hike on Oregon’s Pacific Crest Trail. I need to purchase a good water filter for the trip—one that’s very reliable in removing giardia and crypto, and durable enough to be used everyday by multiple people. Also, if I need water-purifying pills, it would be nice to have a filter that removes the iodine or chlorine taste. Is there such a beast? Henry ity, Oregon

For the last four years I have gone camping in Idaho and Montana in mid-May. In the mornings, my sleeping bag’s covered with condensation whether I sleep in the tent or under the stars. Would a bivy sack eliminate this problem, or should I just live with it? Richard Erie, Colorado

Do I really need a tent footprint? I've used a piece of plastic in the past (actually a clear plastic tablecloth), which turned out to be really light and durable. Now I have a brand-new tent and have bought its footprint for $35, but I'm wondering if I should just go back to my $2.99 plastic tablecloth. What does the footprint do? Protect the bottom of the tent, keep moisture off the bottom? Jo-Jo Victoria, British Columbia

My son insisted on growing up and moving on, so I now find that I have to carry everything by myself when backpacking. As our three-man tent is just too big and heavy for me to lug, any ideas for a solo shelter that's not too pricey? I've looked at the REI Chrysalis and Kelty Teton 2, both freestanding and under five pounds. Joe Raleigh, North Carolina

My friends and I are in the middle of a debate about the insulating qualities of single-wall tents versus those with a separate rain fly. We're strictly talking winter tents, and really the only single-wall tents in question are from Bibler. However, none of us has one, especially given the hefty price tag (I currently own a Sierra Designs Omega). I think a Bibler single-wall would carry enough thickness and protection, but my friends think a tent with a rain fly can keep a layer of warm air in between the tent and fly. So, overall is a four-season tent with fly warmer than the best four-season single-wall tent? Brian Fort Collins, Colorado

How much difference is there between gender-specific sleeping bags? Is it possible for a guy to sleep comfortably in a bag designed for women? John Sydney, Australia

Do backpackers make lifetime investments? I'm 21 and just got into backpacking last year. I didn't have any gear, so I bought the cheapest of everything, which was a mistake! In my second round of purchases, can I realistically expect that boots, tents, packs, and sleeping bags will last a lifetime if I buy good quality? What about proper gear maintenance? Kate Wooster, Ohio

I'm looking for a backpacking stove for a two-person, ten-day trip, so weight and fuel are the big issues. We will have only one stove and will use it to boil water only for oatmeal and dehydrated foods. Can you help? Brady Pleasant Grove, Utah

My girlfriend and I are planning to hike the John Muir Trail this summer (starting late June). Do you recommend a three- or four-season tent? Any specific recommendations for a six-foot-two guy like me, hopefully with two decent-sized vestibules? Joshua Denver, Colorado

Is there a tried-and-true product I can apply to my sleeping pad and bivy bag to stop slippage? Just spent a lousy night sliding around on a nylon groundsheet (seldom can I find an off-trail flat spot in the Superstition Wilderness). Tom Arizona

I planning a year-long trip to Central and South America and seek your opinion on water purification. What is the best purifier or filter combo? We need super-durable, convenient, and compact. Landon Rifle, Colorado

How are tents, and the way you pitch them, best designed to withstand wind? Last weekend my husband and I cped on the tops of the Ruahine Ranges here in New Zealand, but we were up all night worrying gale-force winds were about to blow us over the nearby precipice. I wanted to re-stake the tent (we'd done a sloppy job) but my husband insisted that the slacker the pitching, and the more flapping, the better. He argued that making it more taut would put us at more risk. Surely tents aren't designed to be pitched badly. Can you help settle our dispute? Karen Wellington, New Zealand

I sleep curled up and cannot find a sleeping pad that's wide enough. Some part of my body ends up hanging off normal pads, and I can feel the heat being sucked away. Two pads don't stay in place overnight. Does anyone make pads that are wide? Eve Nashville, Tennessee

Your worldliness, I would like to hike around Mount St. Helens in May or June. As this is your backyard, would you recommend a three- or four-season tent? I await your wisdom. Christopher Santa Fe, New Mexico

I have a 25-year-old EMS mummy-style down bag that was originally rated to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. On a recent camping trip in New Mexico at an elevation of about 9,500 feet, the temperature got down to about 25 degrees at night and I was very uncomfortably cold (and I one who enjoys cold weather). Is there any hope of restoring any of the insulating quality of this bag or is its life over? Phil Houston, Texas

I will be touring around Australia by bike and can't decide between MSR's Hubba Hubba or Velo for my tent. Do you think the Velo is worth the extra cash for the "garage," or should I just bring along a bike cover? I will be touring in Canada as well, so the Velo may be more suited for the climate. Stuart Adelaide, South Australia

I love to sleep outside without a tent in the winter (I don't have to worry about rattlesnakes crawling in my bag or being bothered by insects!), but I notice a lot of dew and frost on my sleeping bag in the mornings. Any tips or tricks? I've never tried hanging my bag in sub-freezing temps, but I doubt it would dry if it's freezing outside. Jesse Dickinson, North Dakota

In response to the devastating earthquake in Kashmir, we are looking to donate two truckloads of heavy-duty family-sized tents and sub-zero-rated sleeping bags. Could you suggest some reasonably priced gear that we can buy directly from the manufacturer? This is very urgent. Irfan Hornell, New York

I do a lot of winter camping in New England. What synthetic bag would you recommend that has at least a zero-degree rating? Ty Wayland, Maryland

Do I need to buy a freestanding tent for above-timberline and desert conditions? I currently own a solo MSR Zoid and a Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight, which pitch well in nice forest soil. I have had some problems pitching these on rocky, soggy, or sandy terrain. These tents also get crowded if I pack for colder weather or if I bring my girlfriend (which is more often nowadays). What additional tent would make life complete for me and my significant other? Harry El Paso, Texas

I need a tent that's very easy to assemble. I camping alone in Alaska next summer and need to put it up myself with no experience! Linda Indianapolis, Indiana

For someone who doesn't do extreme camping, or really much camping at all, and might be in a tent during a Michigan winter, do you have an "if you only own one bag, this is it" suggestion? Shelley Ann Arbor, Michigan

Are polycarbonate water bottles safe? Rumors are floating around the Internet that certain chemicals leached from polycarbonate water bottles may increase the risk of miscarriage and cause birth defects. Should I throw away all my Nalgenes, or is this just typical Web fear-mongering? Randal Canmore, Alberta

Is there such a thing as a mini-tent for gear storage? Jim Roswell, Georgia

I on a quest to build my own tent, but where to begin and where to buy all the doodads? Nicole Fort Wayne, Indiana

Oh Gear Guy, please open my eyes and show me who makes the best bags in the biz. Is it Western Mountaineering or Feathered Friends? I'm further confused with reports of two other excellent manufacturers, Integral Designs and newcomer Valandré. David Los Angeles, California

I'm off trekking in the Italian Dolomites and want to know which stove to take. Self-sealing butane/propane canisters are convenient and light but can be difficult to buy in some areas, and guidebooks never give much advice about which fuel type is most easily available. Ashley Falmouth, United Kingdom

Do I need a pump or chemical purifier for a trip to the Boundary Waters next summer? On past trips I have used Polar Pure, but I know that you sing the praises of pump filters. Will I waste time pumping versus doing some fishing while waiting for chemicals to work? Help me decide, Oh Knowledgeable One! Brad Chapel Hill, North Carolina

My girlfriend and I are planning a yearlong trip to South erica, and we're looking for two extremely durable, sub-two-pound down sleeping bags with opposite zippers that will zip together. We have two heavier Sierra Designs bags that already fit this mold, but they're old and way too big for the trip. Can you help us? Landon Rifle, Colorado

I'm considering getting the Outback Oven for baking on the trail this summer, but other folks have the Bakepacker. Have you had an opportunity to check both out? What is your opinion? I know the Bakepacker basically "stes" the food, instead of baking, but what other differences are there? Gigi Concord, California

I'm sure that you don't have this problem, but some of us are a bit bigger around than most sleeping bag manufacturers think we should be. I've seen expanders that claim to add six to ten inches to a bag's girth. Do they work, or should I just hunt till I find a bag that fits out of the box (so to speak)? Joe Raleigh, North Carolina

My husband and I have five kids, so we need a large waterproof tent with standing room. We're so tired of having to take back tents that leak after mild, short rains, especially through the flooring. What would you suggest we try? Tina Kingston, Tennessee

Can you give me some insight on the Jetboil stove, plus on the pros and cons of boiling water versus water-purification tablets? Should I use both methods? How much iodine/water mix should you ingest? Liver failure on a camping trip would most righteously suck! Scott Lexington, Kentucky